Donald Trump briefly acknowledged in a tweet on Thursday that Russia helped him get elected – but quickly backtracked in comments to reporters.
Mr Trump until now has said adamantly that he won the 2016 election fair and square, downplaying the impact of what US intelligence agencies say was a concerted Russian effort to meddle in his favor.
“Russia, Russia, Russia! That’s all you heard at the beginning of this Witch Hunt Hoax,” Mr Trump, tweeted a day after Special Counsel Robert Mueller spoke publicly for the first time since the release of his report on collusion during the election campaign and possible obstruction of justice afterward.
“And now Russia has disappeared because I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected.”
He again complained of being a victim of what he called presidential harassment.